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I have an external Hard Drive I'm selling. I'd like to be able to deliver to the hard drive to the buyer for it can be used on either Mac OS X OR Windows.

Is it possible to do this using the Mac OS Disk Utility? If so, which format, partition scheme or other options should I be using?

Thanks in advance!

Update: The key part of this is I need to format the disk from OS X. Disk Utility doesn't appear to use the same terminology (FAT, NTFS, etc.) I need to know what options to set in disk utility to give me a drive that's usable on either operating system.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The "out of the box" answer appears to be use FAT32, and deal with the limitations of not having a file larger than 4gb.

To achieve this using the OS X Disk Utility in 10.5, you'll want to attach your drive, open Disk Utility, select your drive (and not the partition) from the left hand window-pane/menu, and select MS-DOS (FAT) from the Volume Format drop down.

Finally, as mentioned by bcwood and of possible interest to power users, NTFS-3G is a FUSE filesystem that enables read/write access for NTFS file systems in OS X (out of the box NTFS is read-only in OS X).

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OS X can read NTFS file systems by using NTFS-3G. I use it on a pair of 500GB external drives that I use for backups between my various OS X and Windows boxes, and haven't had a problem with it yet.

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This is pretty much news to me :) Thanks for the link. –  Isxek Aug 19 '09 at 0:52
    
+1 for good info, but I'm not sure I want to ask Joe User to install FUSE on his box. –  Alan Storm Aug 19 '09 at 2:10

As Richard said, you'll need to format it as FAT, if you need to format it through OSX.

But if you can format it with Windows, then I'd recommend FAT32 as it's a big improvement over FAT.

But, there is also a piece of software that can be run on windows to read Mac disks, called MacDrive.

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Agreed, FAT32 is the way to go. Fat32 cannot hold single files that are larger than 4GB. This can be be a problem for backups and disk images.

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You can use "Disk Utility" to partition and format it for 'MS-DOS (FAT)', but - because of a bug (that's in Mac OS X 10.5 aka "Leopard", anyway) - it won't then format it correctly if the disk is larger than 128GB.

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There's no optional labeled Fat or FAat32 (or NTFS) in disk utility. What am I missing? –  Alan Storm Aug 19 '09 at 0:23

you have to format it in ntfs format. or you can just delete the partition and someone with a pc can format it

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1  
The OP wrote it would be used for either Mac OS X or Windows. Mac OS only has read-only support for NTFS. –  Isxek Aug 18 '09 at 23:39
    
Can NTFS be written to by the Mac? Can a PC format a drive so it's readable on both platforms? –  Alan Storm Aug 19 '09 at 0:27

You can format it to FAT, but not NTFS.

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1  
That is incorrect, using NTFS-3G (see my answer below), you can format and read NTFS drives in OS X. –  bcwood Aug 18 '09 at 23:50

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